Piano Teacher

Question From a Piano Teacher Starting to Teach Voice

Pamela is an experienced musician and teacher, but is new to teaching voice. She asked me for some advice as she embarks on this new venture. I am only to happy to help. Over the years, I actually have had many students who were teachers themselves. I guess that makes me a Vocal Coach’s Vocal Coach!

Your Question

I have a BME from years ago, with voice as my major instrument. I eventually went into a different field, but continued singing sporadically throughout the years. My voice has never been easy, as I have a rather big range but a significant “break” area that has been hard to manage. Most likely it is due to irregular practice habits. In any case, here I am at 56, back into choir singing and wanting to enjoy my voice. Additionally, as I have been a private piano teacher for years, I am now embarking on teaching voice. I have my first student this evening, an eleven year old girl. I would love some suggestions on how to start with her. Thank you!!

My Answer

Thanks so much for your questions. First, most people are able to smooth through the “significant break” issue you mention but it’s a process and takes some time. It also takes the right concepts and exercises. Otherwise you end up trying to trick, rather than train your voice. Our Complete Expanding Your Range is a very, very good tool for this.

Second, regarding your new voice student: After 50 years of teaching I have rather strong opinions regarding how to lay the foundations for a student—and it isn’t by having them just sing songs. Many piano teachers who also happen to teach voice don’t understand that and just end up being accompanists with a little coaching. I believe you absolutely must start with a fun, practical approach to posture (not the “pull your shoulders back” approach which is totally unnatural and unhelpful), breathing (not the “breathe from the stomach” which is a digestive organ) and tone. The most thorough, tested and fun approach to those areas are… no surprise… Vocal Coach CD’s. You can download the foundational series like Vocal Coach Singer or just a few like Breathing and Tone, and Expanding for yourself in a matter of minutes from our store. This is an inexpensive and proven way to train yourself and your students. I’m also available via email to answer teaching questions along the way.

And speaking of Coaching Coaches, I encourage all voice teachers to have regular tuneups with a good professional voice teacher. This can be someone local, or take advantage of our Online Vocal Training.

I really hope this helps and I applaud you on venturing into this new area!